According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),
Young people usually have their first-time ever tobacco use before they graduate from high school. This suggests that if kept tobacco-free during those critical years, most young people will never start using tobacco at all.
So how can we keep adolescents away from tobacco use during those impressionable years? One the most popular initiatives that seem to work are through tobacco-free sports.
The CDC goes on to say that:
Youth sports continue to be popular in the United States. Sports activities, therefore, present great opportunities to reach young people. Young athletes learn to make important health decisions related to tobacco use, physical activity, and good nutrition while on a sports team.
Indeed, the tobacco-free sports movement has gained momentum as prominent athletes and sports organizations declared their support. Some of these organizations are the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA).
Some of the most important sports and athletics events that highlighted the need for tobacco-free sports are:
- In 2001, the Smoke-Free Soccer program went global when CDC teamed up with WHO and FIFA to promote worldwide tobacco-free messages. Women and men soccer stars and other athletes from the United States, Australia, Brazil, China, and Canada appeared in posters to show their support for the program.
- The tobacco-free Olympic tradition continued in Torino, Italy (2006) and the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China. The 2010 Vancouver Games also will be tobacco-free!
However, it shouldn’t stop there. The CDC, together with the World Health Organization and the National SAFE KIDS Campaign, are continuously creating educational campaigns and programs to convince young people to engage in tobacoo-free sports. In a language that they would understand. Take for example this In The Mix video clip Soccer: Kickin’ Butts. The CDC also used spokespersons with whom kids can identify with and this included baseball star Torii Hunter, martial arts star Jackie Chan, and professional skateboarder Tony Hawk. Also available are TV spots by anti-smoking celebrities such Esai Morales and Christy Turlington. These TV spots actually carry a message not only for young people, but for their parents as well.
To keep your child tobacco-free, now is the time to act. Point them to the right direction. Download and print out for them the tobacco-free sports poster. Encourage to watch the TV spots. Check out sports activities in your area. Make sports their only addiction.
Photo credit: CDC poster